What Is Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a condition in which the body's cells become inflamed. This inflammation causes the formation of granulomas, which are inflammatory cells that accumulate. Sarcoidosis more often attacks the lungs, but can also be found in other organs, such as the brain, eyes, skin, heart, liver, spleen and lymph nodes.

Sarcoidosis Symptoms
Sarcoidosis symptoms can appear slowly with different patterns, depending on which body organs experience this condition. In some cases, symptoms can only appear for a moment, then disappear. There are also symptoms that last for years (chronic), or even do not show symptoms at all.

Symptoms of sarcoidosis in general are fever , swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, and excessive fatigue. The following are symptoms of sarcoidosis based on the affected organ:
  • Lungs
    Sarcoidosis sufferers will complain of shortness of breath accompanied by wheezing. In addition, sufferers also experience dry cough and chest pain.
  • Eye
    Eyes that experience sarcoidosis will feel very painful and sensitive to light. In addition to the eyes appear red, the view also becomes faint. However, sometimes sarcoidosis that attacks the eye can also show no symptoms at all, so it is important to check the eyes regularly. 
  • Skin
    In the skin of sarcoidosis sufferers will develop a rash that is purplish red. Usually the rash appears on the wrist or leg, and the shin. The area will feel warm or soft to the touch. Patients also have darker or brighter areas of the skin. These symptoms will also be accompanied by the appearance of pimples or swelling under the skin, especially in the area of ​​the skin where there is a wound or tattoo. The appearance of a defect or stain of a scar on the cheek, nose, and ears can also mark sarcoidosis.
  • Heart
    Sarcoidosis sufferers will experience fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat ( arrhythmia ), palpitations, swelling of body tissue due to excess fluid (edema), until unconsciousness.
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Causes of Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis can be triggered by several factors, but the exact cause is still unknown. Sarcoidosis can be triggered by exposure to infection, dust, or chemicals. This exposure results in an overreaction of the immune system, forming an inflammatory reaction and granuloma, in the affected organ. As granuloma increases in the affected organ, the organ function will also be disturbed.

Some of the factors that increase a person's risk of suffering from sarcoidosis are:
  • Age and gender. This disease is more experienced by women than men, and is in the age range of 20-40 years.
  • History of sarcoidosis in the family. A person has the potential to suffer from sarcoidosis if this condition ever happened before in the family.
  • Personal health history. Having a history of lymphoma or lymph cancer, which is a cancer that attacks the immune system, can increase risk
  • Race . Sarcoidosis is more common in African-American races. This racial group is also more at risk of experiencing severe and recurrent sarcoidosis (relapse), compared to other racial groups.

Sarcoidosis diagnosis
The doctor can suspect a patient is suffering from sarcoidosis if there are symptoms. Then it is strengthened by physical examination, namely by examining parts of the body suspected of being exposed to sarcoidosis, such as the eyes, heart, lungs, and lymph nodes, to detect swelling. To ascertain the diagnosis, a further examination is needed, in the form of:
  • Blood test, to check the overall health of the body, especially the function of the liver and kidneys.
  • Chest X-ray, to check for abnormalities in the lungs or enlargement of the heart.
  • Pulmonary function tests, to measure lung volume and capacity.
  • CT scan, MRI, or PET scan , to see a clearer picture of the organ.
  • Biopsy, by taking a small portion of tissue from a part of the body suspected of being a granuloma, and examined under a microscope.

Sarcoidosis Treatment
Half of the total cases of sarcoidosis can heal on their own. Some patients do not need special treatment if no significant symptoms are found. However, the doctor will continue to monitor the progress of the patient's condition.

Handling sarcoidosis will be given if the symptoms that are felt also interfere with or threaten the function of other organs. Types of sarcoidosis treatment include:
  • Giving anti-inflammatory drugs, namely corticosteroids , drugs that become first-line treatment for sarcoidosis. This drug can be used by drinking, applied directly to the skin, or dropped on the eyes.
  • Giving hydroxychloroquine , to treat skin disorders.
  • Provision of immunosuppressive drugs , to suppress the immune system to reduce symptoms of inflammation.
  • Organ transplant, if sarcoidosis has caused organ damage.
In addition to undergoing treatment, making lifestyle changes as suggested below can make it easier for sufferers to live their daily lives:
  • As much as possible avoid exposure to dust and chemicals
  • Quit smoking
  • Start a balanced diet and diet recommended by your doctor
  • Meet water intake
  • Make sure the body is resting and exercising sufficiently.

Sarcoidosis Complications
Sarcoidosis generally resolves on its own. However, some cases of sarcoidosis can develop into chronic (long-term), which can cause a number of complications, such as:
  • Cataract
  • Glaucoma
  • Kidney failure
  • Lung infection
  • Paralysis of the face
  • Infertility or difficulty getting pregnant.

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